With Manchester United now champions-elect in the eyes of the bookies, the most interesting aspect at the top of the table as the season heads towards its final third could well be the race for fourth place – mainly because it seems like all the contenders are doing their best to ensure that they fluff their lines completely.
You would think that Chelsea will have enough to finish third (although you never know what might happen at Stamford Bridge between now and then) but the race for fourth (trademark Sky Sports News there) is becoming ever tighter as all the sides with it in their sights remain frustratingly inconsistent.
Tottenham Hotspur currently hold the golden ticket, but as they head to the Hawthorns to face West Bromwich Albion on Sunday, their advantage over the chasing pack is too slender for comfort.
With Everton on the same number of points and Arsenal just one adrift – albeit with both teams having played a game more than Spurs – it looks set to be decided on the last day of the season and Andre Villas-Boas knows his job prospects will come under scrutiny should he fail to deliver his stated aim of Champions League football.
Like all the teams around them, Tottenham will feel they should have more points on the board and AVB will be hoping that his side can get over their January mini-wobble.
The 1-1 draw with Norwich City at Carrow Road was Spurs’ fourth game without a win all competitions, a sequence that has seen them score just three goals.
Being knocked out of the FA Cup by Leeds United will not unduly worry Villas-Boas, who seems to have his eyes set on the Europa League in any event, but draws at Norwich and Queens Park Rangers are not the results of a top-four side and Spurs need to get back on track when they face their third away trip in seven days on Sunday.
And I am going to back them to get back on track by seeing off West Brom. That eventuality is 11/10 with bwin, who also go 5/2 about a home win and 9/4 for the draw, but I’m convinced that Spurs can prove they are the better side.
Because if Tottenham are having a wobble, West Brom are in the middle of a meltdown.
It may seem like an age ago now, but Albion themselves were being talked up as potential top-four finishers after a brilliant start to the campaign that saw the Baggies as high as third up until November.
But as Steve Clarke is now finding out, frontline management doesn’t always go so well and his side have been floundering for some time.
West Brom are without a win since Boxing Day – a run of five defeats and two draws in league and cup – and it is quite concerning that the fixture list over that period has not been too taxing.
Defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford is to be expected, but losses at home to Fulham and Queens Park Rangers (in the FA Cup) and away to Reading and Everton, not to mention failure to beat Aston Villa at the Hawthorns, are very worrying and Clarke’s side seem to be gravitating back to a position more in line with their ability.
In fact, since November 24th, West Brom have won just two of their 13 games, losing eight, and Tottenham can inflict another defeat on Clarke.
Only the sides above Spurs in the table have won more points on the road than their haul of 20, while Albion have won just one of their last six at the Hawthorns, drawing with West Ham and losing to Fulham, QPR and Stoke.
Tottenham are far superior to those sides and far superior to West Brom as well. Get on the 11/10 that they show it on Sunday.